Casefile Clues

29 May 2013

Finding Wilhelmina Trautvetter's 1851 St. Louis Marriage

The search for the marriage record of George Rothweiler and Wilhelmina Trautvetter in St. Louis is a good example of why looking in the index created by the record clerk is not always good enough. Manual searches of records are still sometimes necessary.

The first image in this blog post is from the groom's index (the "R" section) of volume 4 of St. Louis marriages. There is only one entry on page 417 beginning with the letter, that entry is for Philipp Rick and Margaretha Morhing. The "index" lists all the "R" entries in page order--keep in mind that this index was created as the records were being created in the 1850s.

According to this index, there is no marriage for George Rothweiler in volume 4 of St. Louis marriage records.

And yet, at the very top of page 417 squeezed into the top of the page is the entry for George Rothweiler and Wilhelmina Trautvetter as shown below (click on the image for a larger view).



Entries such as these, which appear in the record book but are omitted from the index the record book contains, are why genealogists are advised to search records page by page to be certain that the entry of interest is really not there. Genealogists often rely on these indexes in each record book and yet these indexes are not always reliable.

The screen shot below contains the entry for the marriage which appears in the "St. Louis, Missouri Marriages, 1804-76" database on Ancestry.com. This index was created by the St. Louis Genealogical Society who apparently, unlike the clerk, read all the marriage entries. I had searched this database before, but my list of variants did not catch this combination. I'll have to tweak my variant list. 
The problem is that not every book of local records has been indexed by other individuals and, even when they have, those indexers are human and make their own mistakes.